Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Carlo Pagulayan, Aaron Lopresti & Gary Frank
Hulk has been one of my top rated characters since I was young and I loved this big giant unpredictable character who deep down is just a very misunderstood character and not the monster he was made out to be. Greg Pak has done an amazing job with Hulk over the years and both this book and World War Hulk were what got me into reading Hulk comics when I started collecting.
This story starts with Mr. Fantastic, Iron Man, Doctor Strange and Black Bolt sending Hulk to a planet where there is no intelligent life form that Hulk can harm or be bothered by. However Hulk's ship goes through a portal which takes him to the planet Sakaar were he is made a gladiator. He angers the Red King when he tries to kill him and is put in the Maw. There he becomes Warbound with Miek , Korg, Hiroim, Elloe, and No-name of the Brood. Hulk plans to escape his slavery and kill the Red King and during his journey it is asked whether he is the Sakaarson who is prophesied to bring life and piece back to the planet or the Worldbreaker who is prophesied to destroy the planet.
This was a brilliant book and probably the best Hulk story ever told (in my opinion). Pak has done an amazing job in this book and I don't think it could have been any better than it was. This book has tones of great things about it but the thing I probably loved most about it was the emotion. It was nice to see the transformation in the Hulk's feelings throughout this book and it was also nice to see him have proper friends for a change. I also liked how we see some traits form the Hulk's past shown and that due to him being betrayed by friends in the past he is wary whether to fully trust his new friends.
The art throughout this book was amazing and think Pagulaya, Lopresti, and Frank were brilliant on this story. Pagulayan's art in particular was very nice and he did an excellent job of drawing all these different characters, whilst keeping detail in the backgrounds. Although I like Frank's work in general I don't think his contribution to this story suited the story itself, and that his line shading art is very different to Pagulaya or Lopresti's art. I also loved Jose Ladrönn's covers throughout this book and he did an amazing job at showing the events in the issue without spoiling it.
I also thought it was great to see all these new characters be introduced and although Hulk has had a brilliant cast of allies and villains in the past it was nice to see something fresh. I also thought Pak did a great job writing these new characters and was happy that he went into detail about there background and didn't just chuck them into the story without explaining where they're from or what's happened to them. The two new characters I especially liked were Miek and Korg. I liked Korg because he was the soul of the team providing encouragement to the group. He also is a very good companion for Hulk as both are brutish characters with tones of strength. I enjoyed the Miek character because he added humour to the story and character wise is a lot different to Hulk, as he's weak and naturally a coward but with Hulk as a friend becomes braver whilst finding strength within.
The fights throughout this book were amazing and I loved how Hulk was made a gladiator. I did however feel that some of the fights were a bit short and although Hulk can defeat most things easily it would have been nicer for them to have longer. Ending some of the early fights quickly story wise was probably a good thing as not only does it add surprise (as in you'd expect a huge fight for it to end in seconds) whilst showing from an early point that Hulk is extremely powerful and possibly the strongest being to ever set foot on planet Sakaar.
The addition of Silver Surfer during this story and although he wasn't in it long it was nice to see someone Hulk knew on Sakaar. The fight between Hulk and Surfer was immense and possibly the best fight in the book. I also liked how Hulk recognises Surfer as a friend and the pain he shows when Surfer attacks him due to the obedience disc. I also enjoyed that even though the other members of Hulk's Warbound tried to fight the Surfer that the fight was mainly focused on Hulk and Surfer. I also liked how you can see that Surfer doesn't really want to fight Hulk but that due to the obedience disc in his chest he has no option but. I also thought it was a very smart idea to have Surfer use his board as a shield during the fight.
The Red King was a brilliant villain and loved how like a true villain he only cared about himself and would do anything to get what he wanted. I also loved his reaction towards the Hulk throughout this story as before and during Hulk's arrival the Red King has dictated over Sakaar with no one questioning him living and that now Hulk is here there is actually someone that can pose a threat to his reign.
This was an amazing story and will probably be one of my favourite Hulk stories for years to come. I would highly recommend this book as Pak has done an excellent job, and it has tones of violence, emotion and unpredictability. Also if you are a new to the Hulk character this is a brilliant story as you don't need any prior knowledge of the character to enjoy it.